Healthcare.gov Glitches Have Nothing to do With Government Incompetence

An online-only computer program finally opens to the public after heavy anticipation. Then, it t crashes under heavy demand, experiences crippling glitches.

Am I referring to the Obamacare website? Or to the release of Grand Theft Auto Online this month? Perhaps Sim City earlier this year? Or Diablo III before that?

That's right. For those of you who think the crashes, glitches, and slowness of the Healthcare.gov website are a symptom of public sector incompetence in full display, the private sector has been demonstrating these issues for years, in video game launches.

Ask any gamer what happens when you open up a new program after it's opened up to the public for the first time. It is a rough first week or two, every time. That's why "always-online" has become a dirty word in gaming.

I understand that the site has a short amount of time to get itself together before running into serious logistical and political problems, that every day that passes with system issues only serves to validate the concerns of Obamacare critics. I also understand that these issues cut into the short time frame during which citizens are required to obtain health care through this site. But HealthCare.gov is a complicated site, facing an overwhelming "launch day" demand, and we have to give it the benefit of the doubt that it will straighten out its technical issues before decrying it as a failed project.

After all, all of the above examples of prior infamously rough launches have since fixed all of their issues. Grand Theft Auto Online is beginning to function as intended, SimCity took a while, but works better now, and Diablo III is known as one of the greatest PC role-playing games of all time.

It isn't even just websites and games. All technology is prone to bugginess when it first launches. "Never buy a version 1.0 of anything" is an oft-repeated maxim in information technology. The iPhone, PlayStation Portable, and every version of Microsoft Windows are great examples.

It is genuinely bad and disappointing that that HealthCare.gov is having these issues, but it is not surprising, and it is not isolated to government services. The bottom line is that anyone not expecting the HealthCare.gov site to have initial teething problems just doesn't know the tech world. If the site still isn't working two weeks from now, then I'll be concerned. Until then, it is just par for the course.